For those of you who remember life before the Internet, you'll know that from the early to mid '90s, access made serious leaps from the realms of government and research facilities to the home. By 1996, approximately 45 million people around the world were using the Internet, with roughly 30 million of those in North America, 9 million in Europe, and 6 million in the Asia/Pacific region. And fortunately for us, it looked a whole lot more awesome than it did in 1984.
But what did the Internet look like before it went mainstream? Thanks to this amazing footage from '80s British tech show, Database, we now know, and holy sh*t, just look at the size of that modem.
The footage shows the tech-friendly Green family demonstrating how they connect their PC to the Internet, search the web, and send an email.
First up, if you think that horrible screeching noise dial-up Internet used to make was bad, at least you didn't have to physically 'phone up' your connection. While in the '90s we got to just sit back and listen to our modems sing the song of its people, in the '80s, you had to dial up your connection using a rotary phone, as they demonstrate in the video above.
They're finally in, and super-chill Julian is asked to enter his password, which appears to be 1234 (Julian, pls).
They're now logged into Micronet, which was sort of an early 'front page' interface within Prestel - a type of Viewdata technology launched in 1979 that allowed you to hook your television set up to a dedicated terminal so you could receive information from the web via a telephone line. If you've never heard of it, don't worry - it only achieved a maximum of 90,000 subscribers in the UK before the technology was sold off in 1994.
And just so you know, Prestel was at the cutting edge of Internet technology back then, but that certainly didn't mean break-neck download speeds. We're talking 1,200 bits (nope, not Megabits) per second. Which explains why when Pat Green emails the Database program live on air, the email comes through in stages, not all at once like we're so used to.
Watch the footage above to see just how far we've come, and marvel at the prescience of Pat, who in 1984, sitting in front of her giant modem and Prestel interface, says she doesn't want to be left behind. Well done, Pat. You retroactively showed us all up. You're the true MVP.